Event Roundup: Better hiring – The new industry standard in Care

Event Roundup: Better hiring – The new industry standard in Care

In our most recent webinar, we welcomed the Better Hiring Institute’s new industry standard for hiring in the care sector, with insights from contributors to the new resource and discussion around the specific challenges that come with hiring in the care industry.

Presenting were:

  • Keith Rosser, Chair of the Better Hiring Institute & Director of Reed Screening
  • Suzanne Smith, Director of Barring and Safeguarding, DBS
  • Jeanine Willoughby, Project Manager, Skills for Care
  • Kerry Cleary, Director of VBA Consulting
  • Dominic Headley, Director of Dominic Headley & Associates (DHA)

Who are the Better Hiring Institute (BHI)?


The BHI is an independent body set up between UK GOV and industry to advise on the Future of Hiring.

Their mission is to make hiring in the UK Faster, Fairer and Safer by:

  • Influencing faster hiring by promoting efficiency in the hiring process.
  • Championing fairer practices for all by identifying barriers that need removing.
  • Working towards ensuring that safeguarding is hardwired within the hiring process.

In order to achieve this mission, the BHI works with an Advisory Board made up of experts across government and industry, expert panels that scrutinise their work to ensure their mission is met, and industry subcommittees made up of companies large and small across numerous UK sectors.

To date, they’ve influenced a lot of change, including:

  • Released the Blueprint for Better Hiring, the UK’s first guide on how the hiring process needs modernising.
  • Held two parliamentary briefing events, the latter of which in November 2022 was attended by 65 employers representative of 1 million workers in the UK alone.
  • Changed right to work policy and recently submitted three suggestions to refine the scheme, which were accepted by Home Office.
  • Commenced the Better Hiring Toolkit for Industry series with the release of the Better Hiring Toolkit for Local Authorities (Slipping Through the Net).
  • Launched the Better Hiring Toolkit for Care on GOV UK to promote the sharing of effective references and conduct information and a safeguarding mindset in such an important sector.
  • Created the UK’s first Right to Work Hub, an FAQ asked for by over 1,000 employers on the transition to the digital right to work scheme.
  • Launched Managing a Supply Chain guidance for best practice when outsourcing labour.
  • Developed guidance for Onboarding Ukrainian Nationals.

Why the toolkit has been created

The Better Hiring Toolkit for Industry series covers themes cross-sector:

  • Legislation and information sharing
  • Vetting requirements
  • Choosing and managing supply chains throughout the hiring process
  • Barring referrals
  • Reporting to the EAS / Industry regulators


In the Care industry, ensuring proper safeguarding for vulnerable people is at the core of responsible hiring. The Better Hiring Toolkit aims to provide employers with the knowledge and tools to ensure safer recruitment and robust vetting procedures, that provide organisations with the first opportunity to deter and prevent those who may be unsuitable for work with vulnerable people from securing a role with them.

Jeanine Willoughby from Skills for Care explained that in the Care sector there is an over-reliance on criminal record checks, where in fact many who abuse in positions of trust do not have criminal records, and so will not be flagged on a criminal record check alone.

Therefore detailed, effective references are an important and undervalued part of the safe and fair recruitment process. The Toolkit includes information on how to go about obtaining references that refer to conduct, not just a confirmation of dates and job title.

Safer recruitment and robust vetting is just one of many barriers organisations can and must put in place as part of their commitment to a safeguarding culture. With this Toolkit, employers in the Care sector can ensure their recruitment and vetting process is working to safeguard the vulnerable people they work with.

Kerry Cleary described the vision behind the Toolkit:

  • Develop practical guidance that supports employers to request and provide useful references and develop appropriate reference policies.
  • Communicate the benefits of adopting reference policies which support the inclusion of conduct information.
  • Gather and provide high quality effective references and evidence of conduct.
  • Provide effective safeguarding related conduct information of staff employed by the organisations to DBS and others.
  • Dispel myths around what can and can’t be shared in a reference and also conduct information to DBS and/or other organisations.

Embedding a safeguarding mindset

Dominic Headley explained that a safeguarding mindset is the difference between compliance and curiosity. He clarified by saying that compliance is when an organisation meets the minimum standards required, but does not explore or consider anything that sits outside of that process. However, many inquiries and serious case reviews have indicated that a culture of compliance alone does not keep people safe, and more needs to be done to ensure proper safeguarding. Curiosity is when an organisation goes beyond compliance and is actively curious about the information they do and don’t have, and provides a more complete process for safeguarding.

Introducing the PRISIM model of safer employment

The PRISIM model of safer employment is a framework that encompasses a 360° approach to safeguarding in employment, supporting employers to embed a safeguarding mindset at every stage of the employment journey – from planning recruitment through to managing leavers.

Importantly, it supports employers to move beyond compliance, encouraging organisations to be ‘curious’ about their own organisational culture and their approach to sharing effective references and conduct information in order to fulfil their responsibilities to keep everyone safe.

The safeguarding landscape

Suzanne Smith, the Director of Barring and Safeguarding for DBS, explained how the new Toolkit and DBS work in tandem within the current safeguarding landscape.

Within the PRISIM 360° degree approach, disclosure and barring are integral, particularly within the recruiting and vetting stages, within identifying and managing concerns with new and existing hires, and when managing leavers and referring information.

With the new Toolkit, and through adopting the methods and templates included, employers can have confidence in reacting appropriately and proportionately should a safeguarding issue arise.

With full and frank references, employers can avoid having all information/intelligence eggs in one basket, and access a fuller picture of someone’s suitability to work with vulnerable and at risk people.

The Toolkit also helps to enhance employers’ ability to share information with DBS for barring, thus fulfilling safeguarding responsibilities outside of their own organisation.

Insights from our attendees

We took the opportunity to get a gauge on the experiences and opinions of our attendees.

Is a Better Hiring Toolkit welcome in your sector?

Yes – 85%

No – 0%

Unsure – 15%

What remains the most time consuming part of the hiring process?

Referencing – 65%

Criminal record checks – 24%

Getting information from candidates – 9%

Proving qualifications – 2%

What would you like to see next from the Better Hiring Institute?

Continue to work with UK government on hiring policy changes – 13%

Hiring policy, advice & guidance – 23%

Explore & develop potential technology solutions – 18%

Work with UK government to remove barriers – 33%

Host more events with government & industry experts in hiring – 13%

With none of our attendees feeling that a Better Hiring Toolkit was unwelcome in their sector, and a resounding 85% feeling one was welcome, it’s clear that the Toolkits are important to recruiters and provide valuable information and guidance.

Referencing remains the most time consuming part of recruitment for 65% of our attendees, showing that work is still needed to make this process more efficient. However, with the importance that references hold for safeguarding, as the new Toolkit shows, it could be argued that as long as references are full, detailed, and frank, this time is well spent.

Our attendees were more evenly split across option for what they’d like to see next from the BHI, however the majority of 33% said that they’d like more work to take place with the UK government to remove barriers around hiring and within the recruitment process.